The Forgotten .41 Mag

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box

The year was 1964 that the handgun world saw the introduction of a new magnum cartridge that to this day still sparks a lot of controversy. Overshadowed by the .44 mag that had a nine year head start, many of the .44 fans just considered it second best. The .357 crowd considered it to have too much recoil.

The main push for this cartridge came from Elmer Keith, Bill Jordon, and Skeeter Skelton. Anybody that has followed handgunning for any period of time will recognize these men as the whos’ who of the American handgunning.

I have worked with this cartridge for many years and I’ve found it to be extremely accurate. I’ve also found that most people who have seriously worked with the .41 to be very loyal to it as well. It combines good power and milder recoil than the .44’s. I don’t have any exact way of measuring recoil in ft. lbs. or otherwise, but to me the felt difference between the .44 and the .41 in equal weight handguns feels close to 10%. Naturally this is with equal bullet weights as well. The difference coming solely from differences in powder charge weights.

I’ve found the .41 to be an excellent whitetail cartridge and I’ve taken several with different flavors of .41’s. To me the .41 was just like a piece of apple pie, one was never enough. Over time I wound up with three that have all proven to be excellent hunting handguns. My favorite would have to be the Smith model 657 stainless with an unfluted cylinder and  7.5″ full underlug barrel.

Do yourself a favor and give the .41 mag a try. Spend some serious time behind it and see if you don’t agree. The .41 deserves to be far more popular than what it is.

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4 Responses to The Forgotten .41 Mag

  1. Davis Bush says:

    A good friend of mine( now deceased) Mr Don Frische introduced me to the .41 chambered in a Model 29 Smith. I, from first hand experience, can easily say this is a great round. On paper at 50 yards steady rested I could cloverleaf the middle out of targets all day long. I am a rifleman and only a few pistols have truly impressed me.. The .41 is in that group. In a bowling pin match the reduced recoil with big power was the cats meow. There are a few less woodchuck out there also with gigantic holes in them.


  2. roger says:

    After a lot of years I finally purchased a Ruger Blackhawk 41magnum. I’ve shot it with a variety of loads and so far I’ve enjoyed it immensely. Naturally, with a 4″ barrel, I kind of watch my heavy loads a bit. Even so, it still kicks less than my 44 magnum. I bought it to carry as a lighter backup to the S&W mod. 28 when I’m hunting. I think it will work out fine.


  3. Paul Box says:

    Yelp, the advantage of the longer barrel.


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